Column by Avery Gregurich
This weekend on the Harmon Fine Arts Center’s Studio 55 stage, student-directed plays took audiences from the depths of human ruin to the heights of personal triumph.
The Student Theatre Showcase began suddenly without much warning. The lights were raised and “SPEAK,” a play written by senior Allie Reidy and co-directed with senior Napoleon Douglas, exploded in a flurry of movement and sound. Six actors flew around the stage in reckless motion, careening and twirling, only to eventually slow down, stop and collapse together into a groaning pile of human flesh. With intense choreography and dialogue consisting of an array of song lyrics, from Nirvana to Michael Jackson, the play examined the tumultuous relationship between people, particularly artists and drugs. Drug effects were marched out one-by-one and crashed unceremoniously into each other. The afflicted actors rode the spectrum between absolute euphoria, rage, paranoia, unbridled love, and finally back to a longing for sobriety. Toward the end, each actor repeated the phrase, “Uncertain of my reality.”
And the Sun Rises
“And the Sun Rises,” written and directed by senior Caitlin Teters, began with what started out a little more traditionally: With a tap number and a love story. As the play progressed, however, a recorded voice began echoing incoherently in the background. Eventually, the voice reached a fever pitch and could be ignored no longer. It was the voice of Adolf Hitler. The preliminary love story of a shoemaker was abandoned , and horrifying scenes from the Holocaust were given life. Forced into ghettos and paralyzed by fear, the Jews were forced into railroad cars and taken to concentration camps. Teters incorporated poetry from Holocaust victims and survivors, into the play’s dialogue. When the time comes for execution, the shoemaker is spared for his unique ability to make and mend shoes. His survival comes at a serious price as he is forced to finally ask the Sun, “Are you not ashamed to rise?”
“Adventures Insomniac”, written and directed by senior Molly Nelson, took on the universal question of identity. It did so, however, with a unique twist: Two actors played the same character. Tom Mann played the Jeff who inhabits the waking world, while Austin Garner took on Jeff as he is at night. Night-Time Jeff donned a laughably large tin foil crown to assert his dominance over Day-Time Jeff.
Throughout the play, the two disagreed and argued over the perfect way to approach a beautiful young baker girl whom Night-Time Jeff (and therefore Day-Time Jeff) had fallen in love with. They acted out various situations, and each time one Jeff humorously sabotaged the other’s opportunity. At one point, Night-Time Jeff asked the audience a truly philosophical conundrum: “If I ate pancakes at 11, is it OK to eat Pizza Rolls for breakfast?” The play culminated with the two reconciling their differences with the passing of the honorary tin-foil crown.
The final play, “Safe,” exhibited the terrors surrounding the 30th birthday. Luke moved in with Joyce, but Joyce has an untold secret: An unopened safe has been in the house since the day she moved in. In the beginning, Joyce appeared to have no interest in the safe, but the truth surfaces as Luke pries deeper. In turns out that Joyce had delved into the past to uncover the combination to the safe but refused to open it, as it’s a mystery worth clinging to.
The dialogue between the two lovers intensely examined the difference between what someone could potentially be and what they are. Throughout, Joyce wrestled with turning 30, the age when the possibilities of what you can be begin dwindling at a rapid rate. She ruminated long about not having visited Greece, only having time to visit Spain.
Eventually, she decides that the safe must be opened, much to the excitement of Luke who suspected money. All that is found is a family album and a woman’s passport. Upon further inspection, the woman too had travelled to Spain. But, like Joyce, she had also failed to visit Greece.
Gregurich is a English and magazines double major and can be reached at email@example.com